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Centuries Of Breeding Have Reshaped Dog Brains—Here’s How

2019-9-8 19:08| 发布者: hujian| 查看: 28| 评论: 0

摘要:   There are hundreds of dog breeds around the world, from the teensy chihuahua to the massive Saint Bernard—all thanks to centuries of selective breeding by humans. With such a wide range of canine ...

 



 There are hundreds of dog breeds around the world, from the teensy chihuahua to the massive Saint Bernard—all thanks to centuries of selective breeding by humans. With such a wide range of canine>

  A new study performed MRI scans on 33 breeds and discovered how a dog was bred is reflected in their brain structure. (Read “How to build a dog” in National Geographic magazine.)

  For instance, dogs bred to be small—say the lhasa apso—have round heads with similarly round brains that take up most of their skull. A larger breed like a golden retriever has a long, narrow head, and thus a more elongated brain that doesn't fill all of the skull space.

FollowPhotosSEE OUR FAVOURITE DOG PICTURESloading...
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  This is Zorro and his little sister, Madison. They are Pomeranians, approximately two years old. They are active, fun-loving toy dogs who think they are every bit as big as a Labrador. They are members of the spitz family and were favoured by Queen Victoria. They are named for the region in East Germany/Poland that is most associated with their early breeding. This picture was taken at the beach in Waldport, Oregon.

  PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN WILKINS, YOUR SHOT

  “The biggest wow moment for me was just looking at the scans,” says study leader Erin E. Hecht, an evolutionary neuroscientist at Harvard University. “It’s really cool in science where you have a result where you don’t have to do any fancy statistics to be able to tell there’s something going on.”

  This fresh look inside the mind of dogs offers a better understanding of how breeds are hardwired, which in turn helps potential dog owners choose the right breed for their home, adds Hecht, whose study was published today in the journal Neurosci.

Dogs on the brain

  For the study, Hecht and colleagues recruited 62 individual pet dogs in American homes, including breeds such as beagles, Yorkshire terriers, Doberman pinschers, boxers, and more.

  After noting the differences in brain>FollowVideoA Brief History of DogsAs humankind's oldest companion, dogs have been by our side for thousands of years. See how deeply our histories connect and learn how these lovable canines evolved from formidable carnivores to loyal protectors and members of the family.loading...

  Bulldogs, for example, were originally bred to fight captive bulls but later were bred to be loving family pets, putting them both in the “sport fighting” and “explicit companionship” groups. The study team used the American Kennel Club website for data on the breeds’ original roles.

  The scientists then mapped out six brain networks that could be discerned by a dog's behaviour, like scent hunting or companionship.

  For example, in the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex, one area associated with group>

  That makes sense, since these breeds serve roles that are “cognitively complex and demanding, so they might require greater support from the prefrontal cortex,” Hecht says.

  Daniel Horschler, a PhD student in at the University of Arizona who studies brain anatomy in dogs, praised the study’s approach.

  “They didn’t try to divide the brain into regions themselves, which is I think a really good approach because we don't yet know a lot about how dogs’ brains are organised,” says Horschler, who wasn’t involved in the research.

  It was smart, he said, that the team noted areas in which dogs’ brains tended to change in the same ways, then>

  “It’s really exciting,” he adds. “Dogs are such a great model for this sort of thing and no one has really explored this before.”

Science’s best friend?

  Though domestic dogs were once dissed by scientists as “a fake animal,” Horschler says, not worthy of scientific inquiry, they’ve become a more common study subject—in particular as part of the study of emotion and cognition. For instance, 20,000 years of cohabitation has made our pets finely tuned interpreters of human emotion—possibly more so than any other species. (See 19 ways dogs tell us what they want.)

  Study author Hecht and colleagues also performed a statistic analysis that shows the brain variations occurred more recently in the dog family tree, rather than deep in the past—suggesting that “dog brain evolution has happened quickly,” Hecht says.

  “It brings home how humans>

Lead Image: Humans have influenced dog evolution in many ways, including how their brains are structured.

  PHOTOGRAPH BY ROBERT CLARK, NAT GEO IMAGE COLLECTION



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